Sunday, May 29, 2016

How to Write Through the Bad Times

Hi all!!

I'm back online after about ten days away and look what I returned to! The fantabulous Grace Draven shared the cover for her story in our duology FOR CROWN AND KINGDOM. Her story is THE UNDYING KING and, wow - I dunno about you guys, but I'd take him for my forever king anytime!

I like how her story cover works with mine, her hero and my heroine gazing out at the reader with an implicit call to adventure. Both individual covers will be included inside the digital versions, which should be very cool!

The duology technically releases on Tuesday, May 31, the same day as THE PAGES OF THE MIND. That said, I believe buy links will be going up very soon. In fact, it's up on Amazon now!

Our topic of the week is: Writers in the Storm - handling adversity, stress, and generally terrible shit while still producing.

There's a lot to say on this topic, but for me it comes down to this: writing is my job. It's my chosen profession for a lot of really good reasons, but none of them are because it would be easy.

I see two pieces to this question - one is the fundamental dilemma that every human being faces, which is how to go on with the business of living when our hearts are torn asunder. Because, the thing is, everyone has to handle adversity, stress and generally terrible shit while still putting food on the table and keeping the heat on. Some people don't manage to do this, which is why we have a homeless problem. Those are people who get so torn up that they can no longer handle the business of living - for whatever reason. Other people are wounded enough to require institutionalization, temporarily or permanently, in which case they have others to take care of things like protection from the elements and basic needs.

But, above that sometimes tenuously drawn line, we all have to find ways to weather the storms of life while still keeping ourselves and our loved ones alive.

The second piece - and the reason this comes up for artists in particular - is that our creative selves tend to be tied into our emotional lives. For all that I call writing a job, it IS really different than a more intellectual or physical job. I could do day job tasks of data crunching or editing government documents even while emotionally stressed. For me, physical labor is great for when I need to deal with the storms of life. But writing while my emotional life is shot to hell... well, it's harder.

That said, it can be done. Here's a few ways to do it.

1. Use that pain

Writers often joke that a part of us stands back during terrible events, taking notes and thinking, "I'm so going to use this." Use it as it happens. Even if it's as journaling or writing something that's not to deadline, it all goes into the big well. I have a file of fragments that I go back to from time to time, for exactly that sort of thing.

2. There's more to being an author than writing

We often complain that being a writer takes all kinds of hats, particularly in this era of self-publishing and author-originated promo. Some of those hats are the equivalent of manual labor or data crunching. Catch up those book sales numbers. Check out some review sites. Do a bit of wild daydreaming, write down those ideas and think about ways to get there. Sometimes planning positive action can be the best antidote to chaos.

3. Write anyway

Many writers cite that feeling of being in the zone as one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a writer - and most acknowledge that it doesn't always feel that way. Being a career writer means writing even when it doesn't feel good, particularly for novelists. Laying down words is the foundation upon which everything else rests. Write the words anyway - you can always fix them later, and FAR more easily than you can fill all those blank pages.

Anyone else have other advice on this?